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How to Stop Your Cat From Destroying Furniture

A cat sits on the arm of a couch with claw marks up the side.

If you’re a cat parent, you’ve likely ridden the rollercoaster of impossible cuteness followed by some type of savage action countless times. One common cat parent frustration is finding out that your beloved feline has turned your furniture into their personal scratching post.

Scratching can wreak havoc on your sofas, chairs, carpets, and other household items. Thankfully, there are a few effective ways to redirect this behavior and preserve your expensive furniture.

To help you redirect your purring buddy away from your furniture and towards more acceptable scratching options, we gathered advice from Rachel Salant, animal behavior specialist at Veterinarians.org.

Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?

Salant explained that scratching is an innate and instinctual behavior for cats. This goes for our beloved house pets as well as their larger, wild relatives. According to Salant, the why behind your cat’s scratching could be due to a few different things.

Fascinatingly, cats have scent glands in their paws, so scratching leaves behind more than a visual cue. The smell left behind allows them to establish territory. This is one reason your cat may continue to mark up your furniture.

Another reason for scratching is that it helps cats shed old layers of their nails, keeping them healthy and sharp for hunting and defense. It’s also a great way to flex and stretch their muscles, especially after naps or long periods of inactivity.

Additionally, scratching can be a form of emotional release for cats, helping them cope with stress or excitement.

Whatever the reason your cat is scratching, it’s a normal part of being a cat. Salant went on to emphasize that scratching is a behavior most cats must be allowed to do in order to stay healthy and happy.

“You don’t want to stop them from scratching,” said Salant. “But rather you want to redirect the behavior away from your furniture and towards something you deem more appropriate to scratch on.”

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Can You Repair Cat Scratched Furniture?

A cat claws at a leather chair.

If your furniture has already fallen victim to your cat’s scratching spree, don’t throw it away just yet. Depending on the material, there may be a way to repair the damage.

Leather Furniture

For minor scratches on leather furniture, use a leather conditioner to diminish their appearance. Apply the conditioner according to the product’s instructions and gently massage it into the scratched area.

If the scratches are more severe, consider using a leather repair kit. These kits usually come with a filler compound and color-matching solutions to blend the repair seamlessly with the rest of the leather.

For extensive damage, it’s best to seek the assistance of a professional leather repair service. They have the expertise and tools to restore your furniture to its original condition.

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You can try DIY, but a professional will never be the wrong choice.

Upholstered Furniture

For fabric-upholstered furniture, you can cover the scratches with a fabric patch in a matching color. Secure the patch with fabric glue or use a needle and thread to stitch it in place.

If the scratches have caused loose threads, carefully trim them with sharp scissors to prevent further unraveling.

Consider using washable slipcovers on your upholstered furniture. They not only protect the fabric from scratches but also make cleaning easier.

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Protect your furniture with this helpful tape so your cat won't feel like scratching it anymore.

How to Stop Cats From Destroying Furniture

A catch scratches at a scratching post.

Preventing your cat from scratching furniture requires a combination of redirection, training, and providing suitable alternatives. Salant suggested using a scratching post for your cat so they can still have that outlet.

“Get a sturdy [scratching post] that will not topple over or sway if used, and place it very close to where your cat is currently scratching,” said Salant.

Ideally, you should choose a post that’s more interesting than the furniture you want to protect. Consider buying one with various textures like rope or carpet to cater to your cat’s specific preferences. This is one of the best ways to provide a reliably attractive alternative to your furniture.

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“If your cat actively avoids the new scratching posts or does not naturally start to use them, try to encourage them near the posts with positive reinforcement like praise, scratches, and/or preferred treats,” said Salant. “Avoid yelling at your cat or using any other sort of punishment to try to get your cat to stop the scratching.”

You can pair this strategy with some techniques to make your furniture less appealing. Try using cat deterrents like double-sided tape or aluminum foil anywhere you don’t want your cat to scratch. Most cats dislike the sticky texture of tape and the crinkling sound of foil, so they will likely avoid these surfaces.

Salant clarified that you should never consider surgically declawing a cat. However, you should make an effort to keep your cat’s nails trimmed. Use cat-specific nail clippers and be gentle during the trimming process to avoid over-clipping.

Made4Pets Cat Scratching Post

Bring in something more enjoyable to scratch and your cat will abandon your furniture for good.

By implementing these strategies, you can protect your furniture while providing a satisfying outlet for your cat’s natural scratching instincts. Remember that each cat is unique, so be patient and experiment with different approaches until you find what’s best for your cat.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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